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Summer is Coming, but Your Skin Won't Suffer With These Six Sun Shirts

Tan skin is so 1999; healthy, non-damaged skin is much cooler (yes, pun intended). If you spend a large amount of time outside, you definitely need a sun shirt (or two or five), because no matter how much sunscreen you slather on your skin, there is always a chance you missed a spot. And, did you know that regular cotton shirts still allow UV rays to penetrate your skin? Not good, folks. Quality sun shirts vary widely in comfort, style, and protective levels, so it can be tough to make a decision. The six listed below are some of our favorite for outdoor activity.

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prAna Calder Hoodie
Graphic: Shep McAllister

prAna Calder Hoodie

The Calder has that trail-to-town look down; it is beyond easy to go from trail to beach to bar in this versatile hoodie. As with the Sunbuster, UPF 50 is woven into the poly/spandex material, but the performance knit jersey fits in a relaxed manner, perfect for an evening filled with flip-flops, beach bonfires, and tiki drinks. Bonus: the material naturally dries quickly, which is great if you happen to end up in the pool.

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Mammut Alnasca T-Shirt

Okay, I get it: doesn’t a short-sleeved sun shirt defeat the purpose? Sometimes when you’re running or even crushing a summit, the thought of long sleeves just feels suffocating. When that happens, reach for the Alnasca and its UPF 30 protection. The fabric combines wool and polyester so it moves incredibly well but still feels soft against your skin while warding off body stink. Plus, it’s stretchy so you hop on a bouldering problem without worrying about your clothing restricting your movement.

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Title Nine Sunbuster Long Sleeve Pullover

Title Nine knows the ladies and it’s clear with this cute-yet-functional sun shirt. UPF 50 is woven throughout the poly/spandex fabric with a fit that flatters your figure as much as it serves its purpose. A quarter-length front zipper makes it easy to pullover your head (especially with wet skin), making the Sunbuster Long Sleeve a no brainer for hot days at the beach.

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Black Diamond Alpenglow Hoody
Graphic: Shep McAllister
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Black Diamond Alpenglow Hoody

Hikers and climbers rejoice: the Alpenglow keeps you burn-free and odorless, no matter how many days you spend sleeping in the dirt. BD uses the standard UPF 50 protection but combines it with their proprietary technology that reflects nearly 71% of near-infrared rays. The fabric is treated with Polygiene, a technology that prevents odors from developing in synthetic fabrics. Finally, a trim technical fit works well with harnesses and the hood slides under a helmet so climbers can….well, climb happy.

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Columbia Terminal Deflector Zero Hoodie 
Graphic: Shep McAllister
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Columbia Terminal Deflector Zero Hoodie

You know that tender spot on the back of your neck that always gets burned? Yeah, that’s terrible. Fortunately, the Terminal Deflector hoodie eliminates that risk with a built-in neck gaiter (in addition to a hood) that always covers your skin. In addition to UPF 50, the Terminal Deflector uses two proprietary technologies that deflect the sun and cool your skin, leaving you feeling fresh and fine.

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Icebreaker Cool-Lite Momentum Long Sleeve Hood

Unlike the Alpenglow, Icebreaker’s Momentum Hood is made from merino wool, a natural fiber that inherently breathes and resists odors. The Cool-Lite technology combines the wool with Tencel, a wood pulp-based fiber from Eucalyptus trees that wicks moisture away from your skin three times faster than wool (which already does a great job). The end result in the Momentum is a sun shirt that practically sucks the sweat from your skin so you feel dry and cool on the hottest of days.

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About the author

Heather Balogh Rochfort

Heather Balogh Rochfort is an outdoor expert and full-time freelance writer and author in the outdoor industry.